Canadian manufacturer to produce satellite components with revolutionary method
Satellite thruster nozzles are the first aerospace components to be manufactured using a new net-shape vacuum plasma spray-forming process.
Montreal, Canada-based Advanced Coatings & Powders (AC&P) is producing nozzles for Sweden’s Volvo Aero using its patented process, which was developed over 10 years from traditional plasma spraying.
Other commercial aerospace applications are being evaluated for the process, which requires a vacuum in which powdered metals and ceramics can be injected into a plasma torch’s flame. The powder becomes molten and adheres to the metal surface of the mandrel or mould at which the torch is aimed. The part’s geometry is built up layer by layer.
“With this you can dial up whatever properties you want. But you do need heat treatment afterward with a furnace to get the densification and other properties needed,” says AC&P business development manager Tom Whitton.
Some heat management is required as a part is “grown”, he says, because the molten powder cannot adhere if the mould surface becomes too hot.
During the process’s development, the company co-operated with UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce to produce composite combustion chamber liners.
AC&P also worked with the Canadian Department of National Defence to produce personal protection products such as helmets and armour.
Source: Flight International